NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE
NEWTOWN, PA 18940
THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of August 4, 2005. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Lionetti abstaining.
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, August 4, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: William Wall, Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Secretary; Gail Laughlin and John Lenihan, members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer and Jackie Robbins, Stenographer.
Call to Order
Mr. Wall called the meeting to Order at 7:30 PM.
The Pledge of Allegiance
The agenda was reviewed.
Application of Giovanni Agresti – 12-14 Cambridge Lane
Application of Chetan Patel and Reshma Patel – 140 Wrights Road
Application of Cameron C. Troilo, Inc. – 104 Pheasant Run Road
Continued Application of Brandywine Realty Trust – Upper Silver Lake Road
Approval of Minutes
Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of July 7, 2005. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of the special meeting of July 14, 2005. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Application of Giovanni Agresti
Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that this application had been withdrawn, as it has been determined that a variance is not needed.
Application of Cameron C. Troilo, Inc.
Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Cameron C. Troilo, Inc., owner, requesting a variances from Sections 702, 803, 1000, 1001, & 1004, of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit conversion of industrial building to office, bank, cafe, and 5-story (62 feet high) hotel with variances for height (50 feet permitted), parking (number, size, and location of spaces), sign (number, size, height, and location), front yard set back (63 feet instead of 75 feet), and buffering from streets and within parking lot. The subject property is 104 Pheasant Run Road, Newtown, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-142 & 29-10-144.
Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that the applicant has requested that this application be continued to September.
Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the application of Cameron C. Troilo, Inc. to September 1, 2005. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Application of Chetan Patel and Reshma Patel
Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Chetan Patel and Reshma Patel, owners requesting a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit driveway and walkway additions resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 15.8% where the maximum permitted ratio is 15%. Applicant appeals a decision of the zoning officer dated May 24, 2005 or requests an interpretation related to Section 1403.B.1. The subject property is 140 Wrights Road, lot 2, Kramer subdivision, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-19-1-1.
Mr. Ed Murphy represented the applicant in this application.
Mr. Wall asked if anyone present wished to be party to this application. There was no response.
Mr. Chetan Patel and Mr. Nicholas Rose were sworn in.
Mr. Murphy explained that there has been some confusion about the impervious surface calculation, as it was calculated on a site-wide basis rather than on an individual lot basis. The home is part of subdivision.
Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1, a copy of the approved plan, dated June 2003, showing drainage and floodplain conservation easements, and the building permit for lot number two dated October 2003; and as exhibit A-2, the plot plan for lot number two. He noted that on Exhibit A-2, note 4 reads: Maximum impervious Surface Required – 15%, Proposed – 10.1%. The 10.1% calculation includes the conservation easement.
Mr. Nicholas Rose, a licensed engineer in Pennsylvania with Protract Engineering, said that he prepared the plans and calculated the lot size at 58,892 square feet, which included the conservation easement, which at that time had been a proposed easement.
Mr. Murphy entered as exhibit A-3 the as-built plan for lot number two.
Mr. Rose compared the plot plan of Exhibit A-2 with the as-built plan of Exhibit A-3, and noted that the as-built plan shows a wider driveway and courtyard, and a different alignment of the walkways, bringing the impervious surface to 7,178 square feet, 12.2% of the property. Again, this calculation included the conservation easement. There was no notation on the subdivision plan with per-lot impervious surface. It was later learned that the Township would have excluded the conservation easement from the calculation. Using that method the plot plan would have been 13.1% impervious surface, and the as-built plan shows 15.8% impervious surface.
Mr. Murphy said that he has spoken with the Township Engineer, who has confirmed that these calculations are accurate. Mr. Murphy has also spoken to Mr. Harwood who had issued a violation notice because no permit had been applied for when the driveway was widened, although a permit had been issued for walkways and driveway pillars. That permit did not indicate any impervious surface limits.
Mr. Murphy said that all calculations are for lot number two only. He said that it would be difficult to calculate the site-wide impervious surface at this time. He has spoken to Mr. Harwood, who has agreed that using site-wide calculations for subdivisions has been a problem for his office. He pointed out the amount of impervious surface over the maximum allowed is 0.8%.
Mr. Patel said that at the time his driveway was being paved he asked the builder if it could be made wider, as it is a long driveway. He also increased the size of the paved courtyard to provide an area for children to play. His builder had said that he would still be within the impervious surface limits with a widened driveway, as did the landscaper who installed the driveway and courtyard.
Mr. Auchinleck said that if relief is granted, permits must be applied for.
Mr. Steven DeMeglio said that he lives next to the Patel home. He supports this application. He does not have any problems with flooding or drainage because of the increased impervious surface.
Mr. Harwood had no comment.
Mr. Lenihan said that he agreed with the action of the zoning officer on this application, as increasing impervious surface can have impact on adjoining neighbors.
Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit driveway and walkway additions resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 15.8% where the maximum permitted ratio is 15%. Mrs. Bowe seconded. The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Auchinleck noted that only a variance had been granted and the motion upholds the action of the zoning officer.
Continued Application of Brandywine Realty Trust
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that Mr. Coughlin had presented two rebuttal witnesses for Brandywine at the last hearing, but they had not been cross-examined. He recalled Mr.James Stellar for cross-examination, and reminded him that he was still under oath.
In response to Mr. Cappuccio’s questions, Mr. Stellar said that he had been hired by Loftus Construction to design the bridge. He said that if the bridge is approved, Patel Chen would have additional work in constructing the bridge. He has only designed the 150-foot bridge. He has not attempted to design a bridge that would span the entire floodplain. He does not know whether the amount of backwater would be reduced if a bridge with piers were constructed to span the entire floodplain; this would require additional studies.
Mr. Cappuccio asked if a bridge of a single span were to be constructed to span the entire floodplain, would backwater be eliminated.
Mr. Coughlin objected, saying that this was beyond the scope of Mr. Stellar’s direct testimony.
Mr. Auchinleck allowed the question.
Mr. Stellar again said that he had only prepared the design for the 150-foot bridge, and he did not think that at single span bridge that would span the entire floodplain would be feasible. In response to Mr. Cappuccio’s questions, Mr. Stellar reviewed the plan entered as Exhibit A-34, which shows the scour protection for the bridge abutments. He said that the width of scour protection on the northern abutment would be 17 feet 3 inches and the southern abutment would have scour protection of about 6 feet. The scour protection would use R-6 stone rip rap. He said that less scour protection would be used on the southern abutment because of the use of the cofferdam. He agreed with Mr. Cappuccio that if the same scour protection were to be used on the southern abutment, 17 feet, it would extendabout 4 feet into the floodway.
Mr. Cappuccio referred to Exhibit A-38, Loftus Construction, Inc. sequence of operations, item 16, and asked about the removal of the steel sheeting.
Mr. Stellar said that the steel sheeting is temporary and because there is no excavation there is no extra rip rap.
In response to Mr. Beckert’s questions, Mr. Stellar said that the abutments are 15 feet high, 2 feet 9 inches thick, and the bridge itself is 150 feet long and 46 feet wide. He said that wing “c” extends over the property line in the drawing, but would be rotated slightly, if necessary, to be contained entirely on this property. Wing “b” is some distance away from the property line.
In response to Mr. Coughlin’s question, Mr. Stellar said that wing “c”, as shown in Exhibit A-9, extends slightly over the property line. He had been told that this is also Brandywine owned property. If necessary the wing could be constructed entirely within this property.
Mr. Beckert said that he thought that the tip of wind “c” was extended onto CAU property.
Mr. Loftus was recalled. Mr. Auchinleck reminded him that he is still under oath.
In response to Mr. Cappuccio’s questions, Mr. Loftus said that he has been retained by Brandywine to design and build this bridge. If the bridge is approved, his company would benefit. Referring to Exhibit A-38, the sequence of operations for the internally braced cofferdam at abutment number 2, Mr. Loftus explained that an area would be excavated and sheeting would be installed and braced. Any water that infiltrates the dig would be pumped by a submersible pump, similar to a sump pump. The area must be kept dry during the work period. He estimated that it would take about six to eight weeks to complete construction of the abutment.
In response to Mr. Coughlin’s question, Mr. Loftus said that R-6 rock would be used to fill in when the steel sheeting is removed. R-6 rock is stone of about 18 to 30 inch diameter. These rocks provide scour protection. They stay in place when the sheeting is removed.
Mr. Cappuccio called Mr. Roman C. Jastrzebski. He said that Mr. Jastrzebski would testify about pumping of water and scour protection. Mr. Jastrzebski was sworn in.
Mr. Jastrzebski said that he is a licensed civil engineer in the state of Pennsylvania. He has B.S. and MS degrees from Penn State University in civil engineering, with a sub-major in engineering mechanics. He is vice-president of Jastrzebski Engineering, Inc. He has designed, inspected and built bridges for twenty years. He has written and published on bridge building. He has designed and built bridges from 20 feet to over 1000 feet. He has been involved in repair and replacement of bridges, including the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. He has built bridges similar to the bridge proposed in this application at the Court of Oxford Valley. He has worked for about 40 different municipalities as a bridge engineer in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Philadelphia counties. He has been accepted as an expert in the Court of Common Pleas.
Mr. Cappuccio entered as Exhibit M-20 Mr. Jastrzebski’s curriculum vitae. Mr. Jastrzebski was accepted as an expert witness.
In response to Mr. Cappuccio’s questions, Mr. Jastrzebski said that he had been asked by Mr. Mallon to review the application, plans, and the transcripts of this hearing, and other written documentation. He identified the floodplain, and reviewed the TS&L (type size and location) plan. He has reviewed the Ordinance floodplain sections. He agreed that the Ordinance is very restrictive and allows no activity or development in the floodway.
Mr. Jastrzebski said that he has reviewed the Geotechnical Engineering Report entered as Exhibit M-11, and Mr. Loftus’ testimony. He said that the geotechnical report found groundwater within one foot of the ground elevation. He said that this would cause significant hydrostatic pressure. Sheet piling driven into the ground would have gaps that water could leak through. The sheet piling is never 100% watertight. During construction the soil would become saturated because of the ground water, and would slough off. Referring to Exhibit A-34, page 3 of 4, Mr. Jastrzebski said that the soil would not hold because of the hydrostatic pressure exerted on the materials. He said that during construction, because of the water table, the soil would become buoyant and would cause movement. Mr. Loftus had referred to the use of pumps to keep the area dry, but there would be massive amounts of water coming through the sheet piling. He referred to Exhibit A-35, which shows photographs of cofferdams, pointing out the seepage of water at the bottom and between the joints. He said that this seepage would cause silt. He noted that the plans do not make reference to what is happening on the other side of the cofferdam, nor do they explain what would be done with the silt. He said that this silt could become quick and would be very dangerous.
In response to Mr. Cappuccio’s questions about scour protection, Mr. Jastrzebski said that the scour protection on abutment one was three times greater than on abutment two. Bridge scour is the primary cause of failure of bridges. If the ground is not protected, it erodes and is carried downstream. He said that scour protection is a major component of bridge design and construction. Mr. Jastrzebski reviewed Exhibits A-34 and A-36, and said that while the scour protection for abutment one, at 17 feet, is sufficient, at abutment two it is only 6 feet three inches, and he said that it would not be sufficient. He reviewed the PennDoT specifications and criteria for scour protection and said that this plan does not provide enough scour protection. He said that when the sheet piling is removed, it would leave a void between the soil and the boulders, and that there is nothing to prevent the soil from sloughing off, and the soil will move. Referring to Exhibit A-36, page x of x, he noted that if sufficient scour protection were provided to abutment 2, the southern abutment, it would extend about four feet into the floodway. As a result of the insufficient scour protection soft soils will erode.
Referring to the calculation sheet on exhibit M-11, the Geotechnical Engineering Report, Mr. Jastrzebski said that the size of rip rap, as calculated for the 100 year storm and 500 year storm velocity is adequate, but reading from page two of the calculations he noted:
“Apron should extend from the toe of the abutment to the stream a distance equal to the lesser of twice the flow depth at the over bank area or 25 feet (Reference 3)
500 year flood elevation = 143.5 ft
Abutment 1 overbank elevation = 139 ft
Apron length for abutment 1 = (143.5 – 139)x 2 9 ft
Abutment 2 overbank elevation = 141 ft
Apron length for abutment 2 = (143.5 – 141) x 2 5 ft
At the toe of abutment 2 the apron length should be 5 feet but Exhibit A-36 shows 2 feet 6 inches. He said that he disagrees with Geosystems and feels that the scour protection for the southern abutment should be 14 feet 7 inches, but this would encroach four feet into the floodway, which is prohibited by the Ordinance.
Mr. Cappuccio asked Mr. Jastrzebski to discuss the danger of insufficient scour protection.
Mr. Jastrzebski said that scour could undermine the bridge footings causing erosion, and the bridge could collapse. He did not think the bridge could be constructed without activity in the floodway.
Mr. Cappuccio asked about the projected lifetime of a bridge such as this, and the costs associated with maintenance, repair and replacement.
Mr. Coughlin objected. Mr. Auchinleck allowed the testimony.
Mr. Cappuccio said that Section 905.4.E.1.m discusses “extraordinary public expense” if the Township were to accept dedication of the proposed bridge.
Mr. Jastrzebski said that expenses vary, and the bridge is in the preliminary design phase, so it is difficult to estimate, but it is not unusual to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 a year in maintenance and fixing scour holes. He said it might not be $10,000 every year, but it could be $200,000 or more over the course of twenty years. The amount would depend on how aggressive the Township’s maintenance schedule is. He has been involved in replacement projects for two similar bridges along the same road in Buckingham Township, where the bridge has collapsed or partially collapsed. Replacement has been a great expense and a public safety issue for Buckingham.
Mr. Coughlin asked to continue the hearing until September to allow time to prepare cross-examination of Mr. Jastrzebski.
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the applicant and all parties that he would like to receive any findings of fact and memos of law by August 25, 2005.
Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the application of Brandywine Realty Trust to September 1, 2005. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary